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News > Latin America

Chile Declares State of Emergency in Conflict Zones

  • Chilean military patrol the streets, Oct. 2021.

    Chilean military patrol the streets, Oct. 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @ChileTodayNews

Published 13 October 2021
Opinion

The measure involves an increase in military presence in the La Araucania and Biobio regions. Rights of assembly and freedom of movement could be restricted.

On Tuesday, Chile's President Sebastian Piñera declared a a 15-day State of Emergency on 4 provinces due to recent clashes between Mapuche Indigenous people and security forces.

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The measure involves an increase in military presence and its involvement in the La Araucania and Biobio regions. Rights of assembly and freedom of movement could be restricted. The emergency could be extended for another 15 days.

"The Armed Forces will provide logistical, technological, and communications support. They may also provide surveillance, patrolling, and transportation support to the police," Piñera said and added that "this grave situation requires the use of all the means and capacities of the government and its institutions."

The La Araucaria Governor Luciano Rivas was not informed of the administration's decision. He says that he learned about it from the media, and that "the government made a mistake by not informing us in advance".

The current conflict between the Chile State and the Mapuche people is centered on the dispute over Indigenous territories. Many Mapuches lost their lands and are living in poverty. At the beginning of his current administration, Piñera tried to improve the situation in La Araucania, but the murder of a young Mapuche by the police severed all dialogues in 2018. Since then there have been numerous protests, and more Mapuche advocates have died in the clashes.

Aucan Huilcaman, spokesperson for the Council of All the Lands called the decree a diversion from the recent Pandora Papers scandals in which Piñera is involved. Aucan believes that this measure will only increase violence in the La Araucania region. Foundation for Victims of Terrorism President Fernando Fuentealba also showed a "high level of skepticism" over what the Piñera's administration can accomplish. 

"We don't want a confrontation with the military, we just want to work in peace... we don't want to be shot and killed tomorrow", Arauco Forestry Workers leader Pascual Sagredo said. 

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